Ludden basketball reaches Federation title game

Gaelic Knights beat Nazareth, fall in final to Collegiate

And the Dutchmen would reach that milestone, though the Gaelic Knights would battle all the way to the end in a 62-52 decision, the team’s first loss since Dec. 28.

Five early points from Matt Rogers, plus a basket from Hackett, offset a pair of Collegiate 3-pointers in the early minutes, and Ludden briefly had a 7-6 lead. But that was the Gaelic Knights’ only lead of the night.

Collegiate quickly went on a 7-0 run of its own and led 15-10 after one period. The two sides exchanged baskets through much of the second quarter until four late points allowed the Dutchmen to stretch the margin to 28-17 at halftime.

Those points ignited a 13-0 outburst that stretched deep into the third period, and before Ludden could regroup, it was 49-24. Ryan Frankel led Collegiate with 19 points, while teammates Connor Huff (15 points) and Willie Gwathmey (10 points) also hit double figures.

Still, the Gaelic Knights spent the entire fourth quarter whittling down the margin. Hackett, named to the All-Tournament team, managed 17 points, while Kaigler, bothered all night by the defense of Huff and fellow forward Mark Jazbik, had to work for his 13 points and eight rebounds before fouling out.

Rogers also stood out, managing 12 points in his last high-school game. He, along with reserve Nick Walker, are the only graduating seniors from a Ludden side that went 23-3 and earned the team’s second NYSPHSAA title, to go with its crown in 1994.

The fact that Kaigler, Hackett, Littlejohn, Zach Walser, Ben Rath, John Rauch, Kyle Hawk and Zach Harding return for 2012-13 makes the Gaelic Knights an instant favorite to earn Section III and state honors again, though it will face the pressure to succeed that it never really had to worry about on the way to this season’s glory.

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